The Importance of Advent in the Biblical Narrative – Part 4/4

The Importance of Advent in the Biblical Narrative – Part 4/4

The Good News of Jesus to Be Embraced and Lived Out

For the past few weeks, we have been on a journey towards the wonder and awe of Christmas and the birth of the King of kings. To begin, we gave a brief history and definition of Advent, then answered some common misconceptions about the season. We entered into the first Advent by exploring the perspective of the Gospel writer Luke, the shepherds, and Mary. And last week, we invited you into seven practices that serve as pathways for us to experience Advent as individuals, communities, and families. But a question remains: Why? Why is it important to practice Advent as Christians desiring to live out the biblical narrative? To answer this question, let us first start by comparing competing stories. Two thousand years ago, the people of God were being immersed in the cultural current of the Roman Empire and the “story” Rome demanded its subjects embrace: Caesar is Lord. This was the context of the first Advent, where God’s people were invited to embrace a different story, the true story of the whole world—with Jesus as King and Lord. Practicing Advent is important because each time we enter this season, we are declaring with our lips and demonstrating with our lives that our allegiance is to King Jesus. Only by understanding this story can we then take up our role in the narrative Jesus tells about the world. Not only is Jesus as King good news for the present, but also the future. God’s design was never for just one advent, but two. Therefore, followers of Jesus not only get to look back at and celebrate the first Christmas arrival, but we also long for the Second Coming—the Second Advent—when Christ returns and makes all things new. Christians are a people who are to live faithfully in God’s Story between these two Advents.

The Narrow Path

With that said, it’s not always easy to live faithfully as we follow Jesus. One image Jesus uses to describe this way of living is by walking the narrow road, a path that leads to life eternal (Matthew 7:13-14). This passage always reminds me of the famous hike called “The Narrows” in Zion National Park in Utah. What makes this hike so alluring to adventurers is that you travel upstream through the Virgin River. Hikers literally wade against the current of the water for several miles, exploring towering canyons and tight passages until they reach their final destination. The journey is challenging, but the destination is well worth the effort. This hike is a picture for Christians as they navigate cultural encounters and seek to embody the Christian story. For many followers of Jesus, their journey on the narrow path will feel like they are traveling against a powerful current seeking to sweep them away. Often without realizing it, Christians find themselves drifting downstream, caught up in another way of seeing the world. The invitation to practice Advent is a first step in planting your feet firmly on the ground, traveling against the cultural currents of our time as a formative worldview practice. This Advent, your invitation is not to be a passive spectator, but an active participant in the love, peace, joy, and hope offered to you at Christmas. As we enter into this season and its practices, let us pray that our lives will begin to permeate our neighbors and neighborhoods with the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15-17). As we imitate Jesus, glimpses of transformation will appear for both the worried and weary of our world. Like John, who saw Jesus coming toward him at the Jordan River, let us declare this Advent: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And as the angels proclaimed on that momentous night, this Advent we declare that there is “good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Would you help train young people to think biblically?

 Every gift given before 12/31 is matched 2X by generous partners. In the struggle for young hearts and minds, every dollar makes a difference. Please give today.